The financial health of corporate America's largest pension plans improved significantly last year, improving to levels not seen since the start of the financial crisis, according to an analysis by Towers Watson.

Rising interest rates lowered liabilities and moderate investment returns fueled the improvement.

The pension deficit for the 100 largest pension plan sponsors among publicly traded companies fell 57 percent in 2013 from $295.5 billion at the end of 2012 to $125.9 billion at the end of 2013.

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